Rachel Alexandra easily captured the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational-G1 at Monmouth Park to the delight of her adoring fans. The Medaglia d’Oro filly completed the 11⁄8 miles in 1:47.21 over a sloppy track, one-fifth of a second off the stakes record set by Majestic Light in 1976 and equaled by Bet Twice in 1987. Belmont Stakes-G1 winner Summer Bird finished second, 6 lengths behind the Preakness Stakes-G1 winner.
- Ronnie and Betsy Houghton’s thriving commercial breeding and training center at their Sylmar Farm in Christiana, Pa., was a farm that “churned out mostly solid, blue-collar runners” wrote Lucy Acton. “Unlike many breeders, the Houghtons don’t mind losing homebreds through the claim box. In fact, it’s been a remarkably successful marketing tool.”
The Houghtons led the list of Pennsylvania Breeding Fund recipients twice in the past five years. Their total in 2008, reflecting Pennsylvania’s slot-fueled purses and breeders’ funds, was $259,464. In 2004, pre-slots, they topped out with $129,192. Helping boost those numbers was Whistle Pig, claimed away from the Houghtons in May 2007 for $10,000. The son of Patton had recently won the Leematt Stakes (the seventh stakes win of his career) and 13th win overall.
- Listed at 99-1 for the sake of space on the toteboard, Two Notch Road was actually 107-1 in the $60,000 Continental Mile Stakes for 2-year-olds on the turf at Monmouth Park. A Virginia-bred son of Partner’s Hero out of Capiano, Two Notch Road went on to win by 11⁄4 lengths for co-owner/trainer Glenn Thompson in his first grass attempt. In previous three starts he could finish no better than sixth. Two Notch Road is still racing at 12 for breeder James Hackman and co-owner/trainer Thompson. He’s a winner of five stakes and is multiple graded stakes-placed in 46 starts (through Sept. 7), with career earnings of $536,193.
- Sagamore Farm, undergoing a revival by its new owner, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, returned to the ranks of graded stakes-winning owners when 3-year-old filly Shared Account captured the Lake Placid Stakes-G2 at Saratoga. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Pleasantly Perfect was purchased by Plank for $170,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September Yearling sale.
- Former Maryland Horse Breeders Association general manager Mary Thomas died at age 76. Thomas had contributed immeasurably to the MHBA and to The Maryland Horse for 24 years until retiring in 1989 and was remembered by editor Lucy Acton. “Mary set the standards that the MHBA still attempts to follow – 20 years after she retired from her job with this organization. If we have a sense of pride over the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and all it stands for, that’s the spirit of Mary Thomas echoing through the hallways.”
- The Mid-Atlantic region lost two well-known old-timers: Virginia-bred Grade 1-winning multimillionaire Majesty’s Prince (30) and Pennsylvania-bred timber star Welter Weight (21).
Majesty’s Prince was the first Virginia-bred to reach the $2-million mark in earnings, and career highlights included back-to-back wins in Belmont Park’s Man o’ War Stakes-G1. The son of His Majesty stood at stud farms in Kentucky, New York and Virginia before returning to live out his life at his birthplace, Hazel Marsh’s Thoroughbred Farm, near Berryville, Va.
Welter Weight, a son of Fit to Fight trained throughout his glory years by Tom Voss, won the 1999 Maryland Hunt Cup and was second four times, and captured four runnings of the Grand National. He retired at 13 to a second career as a foxhunter, and lived out his life at Poppet Pitt’s Hitchcock Plains Farm in Monkton.